These days, Twelve Step programmes are available to help recovery from any addiction. They have several defining characteristics: Acceptance, Self-help and Spirituality being notably significant. Perhaps less appreciated is the concept of Community that they all contain.
The first word of the Twelve Steps is ‘We’ – ‘We admitted we were powerless over alcohol/drugs/gambling etc, and that our lives had become unmanageable’. This small word has a deep significance.
The Power of ‘We’
The power of addiction cannot be overcome alone; help is needed and there is strength in numbers. It is generally recognised by those involved in the practical side of addiction treatment, that the power of community to create healthy recovery is far greater than any individual physician, therapist or psychologist.
Most treatment centres are based on the concept of a therapeutic community where participants are exposed to challenge, support, experience and example of others.
This works fine while the addict is receiving treatment but as we know, the real struggle begins when treatment finishes. Too many people have found that the move back home from the therapeutic community brings a lack of motivation and accountability, a change in attitudes and a loneliness that they find too much to cope with.
Isolation is a common result of active addiction – an early warning sign of compulsive behaviour or substance misuse can be when a person drastically reduces or ceases their presence on social media sites – Facebook, Twitter and the like. A practical and positive step when recovery starts, will be to reverse this process. So anything that gets us connected, especially in real-time (as we see with Instagram, texting, etc.) is to be very much recommended.
Digital interaction is an integral part of our everyday routine. We check emails and texts, update our Facebook page, fire off a Tweet or two, and then finish our morning coffee. Digital interconnectivity provides endless new opportunities to support our very human needs for community and social interaction.
Forming a Facebook Recovery Group (these can be closely controlled as to membership, orientation etc) can be hugely effective as a way of keeping the community power working.
Social media can have its downsides (you can get addicted to social media itself, for a start!), but overall the positives appear to outweigh the negatives. These days it is the easiest way to communicate with a lot of people and thus to reach out for support and keep the whole idea of recovery foremost in your mind.
There could even be somebody lurking on your friends list who’s having a similar problem and who doesn’t know what to do – your post could give that person the push he or she needs.
Facebook (1.7bn), WhatsApp (1bn), Tumblr and Instagram(.5bn) are massive and they represent the present reality of social communication. We should use them to our advantage. As AA and other 12-steps groups have proven, when dealing with addiction, the community is the best treatment.
Article by Specialist Therapist Christopher Burn
Photo by Saulo Mohana